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Guitar Hero Live Review

Guitar Hero Live

Release: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Activision
Developer: FreeStyleGames
Genre: Family, Other, XBox One Reviews


Great About Rating
7.0 - Gameplay
8.0 - Video
9.0 - Audio

Just on the heels of Rock Band, Activision launched their own music game. Unlike the Harmonix giant, Activision completely changed up the way we thought a Guitar Hero should play, making Guitar Hero Live a completely different experience, something you will have never played before. While this new design comes with its fair share of advantages, we cannot help but look to the age old saying: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. While Guitar Hero Live does things I like, I keep wanting to go back to the old school, five button system. Perhaps I’m stuck in the past, but for this reviewer, the past is where I ultimately want to be, at least in a world ruled by Guitar Hero.


Physical Instrument

Like Rock Band, Guitar Hero Live ships with all new guitars. They are definitely more solid than previous years versions, and completely different. That is right folks: unlike in that Harmonix game, your old Guitar Hero guitars will not work with Guitar Hero Live. That is because the new guitars are completely different. The five button system is gone, and is instead replaced by a two sets of three buttons. All six buttons are located on the end of the guitar neck: 3 buttons on the bottom, and 3 buttons on the top. You are given three white buttons and three black buttons. These colors correspond with three cords on the screen. At times you will need to press all white buttons, all black buttons, a combination of white and black buttons, or white and black buttons at the same time. 

Guitar Hero does not ship with a microphone, but using one of your old USB mics will work, allowing you or a friend to sing along.

Track List

We need to get this out of the way. If you are looking for a brand new music rhythm game with songs you are actually going ot recognize, than Guitar Hero is your game. The track list is excellent, mixing together hits of yesterday and today, from a variety of genres. No music fan is left out, although those who enjoy a good rock tune are definitely going to find more to enjoy here. There is LOTS to play, and since almost every track is something I actually wanted to play, I felt there was more options for my wife and I out of the box. As of right now, there does not appear to be any DLC plans in the near future. What you see on the disc is what you will get.


Unlike Rock Band, it is more than likely that Activision will forgo the ability to bring songs from previous games into this one. The way you play the game is entirely different, and would require more work than it is probably worth. Essentially what we are saying is thumbs up for providing incredible value out of the box, but thumbs down to not having a wealth of other options to choose from on Day 1. 

I have one minor issue with how the tracks are laid out for you. If you haven’t – or frankly if you don’t want to – spend time in the career mode, your list of available songs in ‘Quick Play’ will be very, VERY limited. As you unlock more songs in Career Mode, you unlock more songs in quick play. This is a huge miss for me. What makes it even worse is that Activision allows players to purchase the entire track list for a 24 hour window. This feels like a huge money grab to me. Why the tracks are not all available to play in quick play is beyond me, and hopefully it is something Activision is looking to change.

Fresh Look

As you may have noticed above, I’ve indicated that Activision has completely re-imagined the guitars for Guitar Hero Live. The game plays completely different now. This is both refreshing and somewhat disappointing. Guitar Hero in the past was never broken, so why fix it. Perhaps Activision believes there title will have a longer life span than Harmonix because they were willing to improvise and change; that is yet to be seen. However, I’m not completely sold on the new 3 button system. It is definitely fun, but for me, it was limited fun. The new Guitar Hero is not party friendly. The one night I had numerous people over we fumbled through trying to learn the new controls, with over half the attendees giving up almost as soon as beginning. Thumbs up to Activision for innovation, but thumbs down to the fact that it won’t have the universal appeal that the 5 button system had.


Guitar Hero Live gets the extra tag of “Live” for a reason. Each and every song features a live music video being played in the background. This is an amazing add on until you actually begin strumming away. It is a nifty idea, but one that ultimately proves to be too distracting. I feel like the background distractions are more for the people watching you play, than for yourself. Personally, I’d rather have distraction-less gaming than semi-entertained guests.


Don’t take my own disappointments and assume Guitar Hero is a bad game. It really isn’t! In fact, for those tired of the old 5 button system will definitely like this title as it is new and refreshing. For those who are looking for maximum value out of the box, the track list for this title definitely outshines that of Rock Band. And finally, this is significantly cheaper than Rock Band, making it much more accessible. If you are a fan of any or all of the previously mentioned items, you will have no problem enjoying Guitar Hero Live. It just wasn’t for me.



Article By

blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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